SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/20 Oct.) — Manobo tribesmen who barricaded a mine site in Claver town, Surigao del Norte weeks ago may face charges should they return to stage another blockade, local officials warned.
Claver Mayor Eddie P. Gokiangkee said local authorities will not anymore allow “illegal barricades” in his town, claiming that the action almost turned violent.
Some 700 members of the Kahugpungan sa Nagkahiusang Tribu nga Manunubod sa Yutang Kabilin (Kantrimayuka) abandoned the causeway of a nickel mining firm in Claver town on October 4 after over a month of barricade.
In a move that baffled local officials and the Mamanwa tribe that holds an ancestral domain title over the area, the Surigao del Sur-based Kantrimayuka had demanded royalty share from the mining revenues of Adnama Mining Resources Inc. (AMRI).
The demand drew strong reactions from Mamanwa tribal leaders Datu Reynante Buklas and Datu Alicio Patac, who accused Kantrimyuka leaders of “pangajao,” a term that loosely means a raid by one tribal group against another village or settlement.
Kantrimayuka’s members are already beneficiaries of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title 002 in Barangay Pakwan, Lanuza town, Surigao del Sur where they reside, records from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples show.
Claver town officials also found it hard to believe that a group of Manobos residing outside the province in a place 77 kilometers away would claim the area as their ancestral domain, noting that the town has not historically hosted tribes other than the Mamanwa — owner of the CADT-048 that includes the mine site of AMRI.
Gokiangkee was concerned over reports that the Manobos were armed during the barricade, and stressed that local authorities have the right to maintain peace and arrest “troublemakers.”
He said he was worried that Mamamanwas would also be forced to use arms to defend their territory.
“We have a duty to preserve peace and order in our town. We have been lenient the first time, but things like this cannot go on as they please,” the mayor said.
Over the weekend, Kantrimayuka tribal chieftain Samuel Dawog Sumanda said they will not hesitate to return to the AMRI mine site should the company renege on its purported pledge to pay them an unspecified amount of royalty.
Dawog said they ended the barricade because of this promise.
AMRI, however, has filed grave coercion charges against Kantrimyuka officials. Police said they expect warrants of arrest to be issued against the barricade participants this month.
AMRI added it was mulling a damage claim against Kantrimayuka for the disruption that had caused the company “millions of losses.”
Surigao del Norte Rep. Guillermo Romarate (2nd district) had earlier chided the police for not taking action against the barricade, which the lawmaker viewed as “extortion.”
Early last month, the lawmaker also called on the House committee on national cultural communities to investigate, in aid of legislation, the “apparent intervention of certain local government officials by encouraging false claims and acts of extortion that are within the purview of our laws.” (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)